I am so incredibly excited to be bringing back the ‘Interview With A Mum In Business‘ series to Life Unexpected. Today I’m kicking things off by interviewing designer, blogger and shop owner Alex from ‘Ada & Alfred’. She’s also kindly giving away one of her products to a very lucky reader. You can enter the competition at the bottom of this post!
But first, before I dive in, let me share with you a little bit more about this series in case you are new here. Regular readers of this blog will know just how passionate I am about supporting Mums who have created their own business, alongside the juggle of everyday family life. By day I actually work as a freelance social media manager and brand consultant and I spend my working life helping small businesses and especially small ‘Mum run’ businesses to grow and flourish.
I love that this series gives a platform to these wonderful women and gives us a very rare insight into what it takes to pursue your dreams in amongst the hectic-ness of raising a family. The ‘Mum In Business’ series will run weekly from today and interviews will be published on a Friday.
If you are a Mum with a business and you wanted to take part, get in touch by dropping me an e-mail!
Interview With A Mum In Business Featuring: Ada & Alfred
Alex is someone I’ve been in online groups with for years! I know her through the blogging world and I first heard of her via her popular parenting and lifestyle blog ‘Lamb and Bear’. She also ran an online business of the same name through her blog, where she created and sold the most amazing, funky kids, printed leggings.
She’s recently re-branded ‘Lamb and Bear’ and launched ‘Ada & Alfred’ so that she could expand her range and share more products aimed at grown ups, as well as kids. Her re-launch has seen her create some pretty cool slogan t-shirts, hoodies and jumpers that can be worn by men, women and children. A few of her products are definitely at the top of my Christmas wish list!
She also now creates personalised backpacks and stationary and all of her products are either handmade in or finished in the UK!
Before I give it all away though, lets hear from Alex herself. In today’s interview we find out how she juggles work and life with two kids, how she runs her businesses and what a typical day looks like for her. Over to Alex…
Tell us a bit about your business? Why and when did you start it?
I first launched my business at the end of 2015. It was originally going to be something I worked on around my part-time job as a fashion designer, but in October 2015 I was made redundant without notice and decide to put everything into my brand.
How did you get the idea for your business?
I worked in fashion and always dreamed of having my own brand. I basically became obsessed with printed leggings for my son who was 2 at the time. However, I wanted something more unique and unisex, and figured I had the skills and knowledge to design something myself!
Where do you like to work from?
My sofa mostly! Sometimes my bed. and if it’s tidy I might get to work at my desk every now and then!
How do you balance both work and family life?
With difficulty. Honestly, I’m winging it. This is the part I need to work on. I need a better schedule. I’m responsible for the school run every day, and everything else about being a stay at home mum. Yet, I’m also responsible for running my business. Oh and did I mention I have a fairly established family/lifestyle blog too?!
What is your vision/dream for your business?
My responsible dream is to successful enough to pay myself a full-time salary. At the moment I don’t pay myself anything as the business is still so small. My vision is inspire people with the slogans I write. My signature slogan is “Coffee and Conquer” and is inspired by my life, and the lives of many other busy parents, non-parents. Have a coffee and conquer your day. I want people to read my slogans, see my products and maybe, just maybe, feel a bit happier.
What have been your biggest challenges so far and how did you overcome them?
Finding a UK manufacturer was a huge challenge, they don’t advertise themselves much so it took hours of scouring google before I found a UK factory to move my production to.
What has been the highlight of running your own business?
Having people I know tell me they’ve spotted kids wearing my leggings and instantly recognising them. That seems so simple, but it honestly makes me so proud to know my products are out there.
How did you fund your business?
I had a small investment from my father-in-law to buy my first collection of leggings. After that the business is self funded. Once I have enough money from sales, I buy new product. I’m passionate and confident about my designs, but I’m not stupid. I’m not throwing a lot money at something until I know it’s going to pay off.
What advice would you give to other mums starting a business?
Really consider what you’re able to offer your business. Time, money, talent. Don’t expect the world if you’re only putting in a few hours a week. Follow your dreams, but set yourself realistic goals along the way.
What does a typical working day look like for you?
I start off with the school run. I have 3 days without my 2 year old to work. On those days I usually start off by checking my emails (for both the blog and the shop). I then write myself a to-do list. If I have a lot of blog deadlines I’ll allocate most of the time to that, however if I have orders to send those become priority.
I think about the content I can share on social media and if I’m lacking in photos I’ll take a few of the samples I have at home.
There’s always a chore or two to fit in so my working day also consists of doing the laundry and cleaning. But I try not to do too much and treat a working day as if I’m in an office somewhere and not at home.
At 3pm I pick up my eldest from school and if he lets me I’ll carry on with some work until tea time.
I work most evenings until around midnight.
Do you have any tips to banish the mum guilt we all feel?
You’re a person too, you’re not only a mum. You’re allowed to want a career, something more. If you’re passionate about working, then show your children what it’s like to build a career and follow your dreams.
Do you ever get the chance to have time off for yourself? If so, what do you like to do?
Not really. Sometimes instead of working late, I’ll stay up and binge watch something on Netflix.
What is your favourite thing about the products that you create?
Everything I design has a meaning, is inspiring, and has come from my little brain. That’s pretty cool.
Thank you so much Alex for this wonderful insight into your business. I can’t wait to watch Ada & Alfred flourish and I hope you get that full time salary soon – it is so well deserved.. Alex is is also kindly giving away one of her slogan sweatshirts to a lucky winner. You can choose either the ‘Coffee and Conquer’, ‘Tea and Triumph’ or ‘Wine and Winning’ sweatshirt. To enter, simply fill in the rafflecopter below…
How Cool Are Ada & Alfred’s Products?
I really want the ‘Coffee and Conquer’ sweatshirt for myself. I also love Alex’s advice for other Mums wanting to start a business. It’s so true that you need realistic goals and to put in the time.
If you are a small business though or if you are a Mum who works from home then definitely check out the ‘Career‘ and ‘Mum In Business‘ section on Life Unexpected, where you’ll find some super helpful tips and tricks.